Australian Plants online
Index   Back Issues   ANPSA Home

Book Review

West Sydney Wild - Alan Fairley and David Waterhouse

Reviewed by Ian Cox

West Sydney Wild is a compact book of 179 pages describing in an easy to read format twelve bushland reserves of Western Sydney. The reserves are Mirambeena Park/Lansdown Reserve, Bicentennial Park, Georges River National Park, Nurragingy Reserve, Cumberland State Forest, Castlereagh Nature Reserve, Agnes Banks Nature Reserve, Windsor Downs Nature Reserve, Cattai National Park, Pitt Town Nature Reserve, Scheyville National Park and Bents Basin.

Book cover

Until this book was published, these smaller reserves have been largely overlooked in preference to the larger and better-known national parks around Sydney.

West Sydney Wild is essential to carry in the daypack when visiting any of these reserves. Each chapter contains highlights for quick reference, facilities, maps including walking trails, geology, description of plant communities, plants of special interest, and fauna. Although Alan Fairley's treatment of the flora is general rather than botanical, it is well done as would be expected. David Waterhouse's expertise in birds and other fauna is very apparent. Particularly helpful are the sections on birdwatching, including the best time of the year to see certain bird species.

For plant enthusiasts there are many highlights, such as:

  • the unique plant communities on deep sand at Agnes Banks similar to coastal vegetation;
  • remnants of important Cumberland Plain Woodland at Castlereagh, Scheyville and Windsor Downs;
  • stands of the seldom seen Eucalyptus benthamii (Camden White Gum) at Bents Basin;
  • ground orchids at Castlereagh and Georges River National Parks;
  • the large population of the rare Acacia pubescens at Scheyville;
  • rare plants at many of the reserves too numerous to list here, such as Allocasuarina glareicola, Dodonaea falcata, Grevillea juniperina, Prostanthera scutellarioides and Persoonia nutans at Castlereagh Nature Reserve.

As the authors say, "Each of the reserves has its own unique vegetation patterns. Despite their small size, the reserves are full of surprises just waiting for visitors to make their own discoveries."

This is not a book directly advocating conservation. However, in a subtle way the reader will be guided by his or her quest for information to the conclusion that the reserves are so special and contain so many natural treasures that their preservation, and the preservation of similar areas, is worthwhile.

West Sydney Wild is an ideal book to aid teachers in environmental studies at schools. It would be helpful to the person arranging activities or bushwalks for a district group. For a nature lover, it provides a variety of ideas for places to visit during a day out.

West Sydney Wild

Alan Fairley and David Waterhouse, Rosenberg Publishing, 2005
RRP $19.95, Available at bookshops or
Paperback, 180 pages, 225 x 150 mm, 72 colour photos
ISBN 1877058386

From Native Plants for New South Wales, newsletter of the New South Wales Region of the Australian Plants Society, October 2005.

Index   Back Issues   ANPSA Home

Australian Plants online - 2006
Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants